Judiciary being the third pillar of the State authority, impartiality and accountability in the judicial administration is of paramount importance. Citizens look up to this institution with hope. Simplifying and rationalising laws and procedures; strengthening the independence of judges; improving the administration of the courts; balancing the costs of justice; expanding access to justice for the poor and other disadvantaged groups; are some of the important steps to bring about efficiency, transparency and accountability in the judicial system.
The rapid advancement in the deployment of technologies is opening up opportunities for judicial reforms across the world. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are considered as the major tool to enhance efficiency, access, timeliness, transparency and accountability. Many countries are leveraging technologies for judicial reforms. Singapore Supreme Court has initiated ‘the paperless court’, where electronic filing helps cut costs and improve efficiency. US Federal Courts are implementing electronic filing to streamline the process and enhance effectiveness.
India is also not far behind in the use of ICT for judicial reforms. The e-Courts mission mode project was recently launched by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India. The project marks the beginning of a new era for the administration of justice in the country. e-Courts project aims at enhancing the efficiency of the judiciary by linking the courts electronically and digitising the services.
One of the advantages of virtual justice is the democratisation of the relationship between justice and citizens, thus preparing more demanding citizens within the legal system. However there are several forms of exclusion on the access to e-Citizenship. The right of equal access to legal information, to the courts and to legal institutions, in the context of ICT can exclude those who do not know or are not able to explore all the resources required.
These limitations, not withstanding, the role of IT for efficient judicial administration is well established. In this issue of egov magazine, we have attempted to provide you with an overview of e-Courts movement in India, status and the way forward, from none other than the pioneer in the field of use of IT in judiciary in India, Justice GC Bharuka. We have also covered the perspectives from the nodal agency, the Department of Information Technology, Government of India implementing agency and the National Informatics Centre. We wish you a happy reading and look forward to your comments and suggestions.